Sochi TV audiences – not a stunning outcome

Australia’s Channel Ten's programming hinged heavily on the Sochi Games. The Winter Olympics drew decent figures, but rarely figured in the top 10 most watched programs. Ten says the average audience for its Winter Olympics coverage in all capital cities and regional areas and across all its channels, was 1.1 million.

However, the average prime-time five-city metro figures for the Sochi Games on Ten were 303,000 viewers per night. In comparison, the average prime-time audience for the Vancouver Games on the Nine Network in 2010 was 569,000.

Ten's chief executive, Hamish McLennan, says the Games had performed better than expected and Ten's overall prime time audience, which includes channels One and Eleven, was up 18%.

In the US, the average prime time viewership for the Games' 17 nights (not including the bonus night of 6 Feb) was 21.4 million – down from the mostly live coverage from Vancouver in 2010 but up 6% from the last European Olympics in Turin in 2006. The Vancouver Games averaged 24.4 million viewers in prime time. 61.8 million unique users consumed digital content from NBC, highlighted by the United States-Canada men's hockey semifinal.

NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics closing ceremony in Sochi, drew an average of 15.1 million viewers, down 29% from Vancouver four years ago – and down from the 2006 event. By a different measure, the tape-delayed nearly 2-hour extravaganza drew an overnight metered-market rating for the network that was down 33% from the result of the Closing Ceremony of Vancouver 2010.

The audience rose 2% from the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, NBCUniversal said today in an e-mailed statement, citing Nielsen data. The closing ceremony in Vancouver, which followed the 2010 gold-medal hockey game between the U.S. and Canada, averaged 21.4 million.

In advance of Sochi, the entertainment division of Comcast Corp. which owns NBC Sports booked more than $800 million in ad sales, while spending US$775 million on the U.S. TV rights and committing about US$100 million for the production. (Read our previous discussion on NBC’s plans and advertising expectations for the Sochi Games – )

Olympics sponsor Visa received one of the biggest consumer perception boosts as a result of its affiliation with the games, according to YouGov BrandIndex.
Visa, an Olympics mainstay, became the first sponsor to use paid search to drive visitors to its Tumblr account. The ads have been appearing on both Google and the Yahoo Bing Network. Visa’s current Morgan Freeman-narrated campaign “celebrates that incredible moment when an Olympic athlete knows they nailed their performance,” spotlighting several notable competitors and their preparation.
The financial services company was consistently included in Twitter’s daily “most-shared Olympic images.” Visa had 15 images featured, which accounted for more than 51,324 retweets and 75,452 favorites (and counting).
Olympics marketing is worth the investment of both time and money, according to Visa Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Burke.

Eric Winton

Director, New Millennium Business

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